Dutch Oven Cornbread Chili

Whether you are camping or at home, make something special like Cornbread Chili and bake the cornbread in the same pot as your chili!

Perfect for Camping: Dutch Oven Cornbread Chili by FamilySpice.com

I must say that this has been my busiest summer EVER! I mean, having 3 kids keeps you pretty busy. But this summer has been amazing with our first ever two week vacation across california, pool parties with friends, kayaking in Mission Bay and boogie boarding at the beach. We just returned from a FABULOUS weekend camping along the Kern River with my neighbors. That’s 5 families, 10 adults, 15 kids. FUN TIMES!

To help with the meal planning, we split up dinner duties. I got to head up the Saturday night dinner. Was I up for the challenge, or what?! My hubby, being cubmaster this year, got us some 10-inch cast iron dutch ovens for our camping trips and they were begging to be used. And, thru scouts, my man got together with other scout leaders and had a crash course in dutch oven cuisine. I was definitely inspired. And what was on our menu for Saturday night: Cornbread Chili and Baked Apples. Mmmmm… my mouth is still watering!

In my research for fabulous dutch oven recipes, cooked OUTSIDE over coals mind you, I found a couple great websites. The first was Byron’s Dutch Oven Cooking Page. Everything you want to know about dutch oven cooking is here from choosing one, to cooking in one, to cleaning and to taking care of one. Byron has an assortment of recipes (dinners, desserts, breakfasts) many of them prize winners to get you started. Another great source of dutch oven recipes is through the boy scouts and Scoutorama. These recipes aren’t just for dutch oven cooking, but also include foil cooking and homemade ovens made out of cardboard.

For my chili recipe, I wanted something easy and yummy. I adapted Byron’s chili recipe to my taste buds and my smaller dutch oven size. Since I was feeding 10 adults and my dutch oven’s were small I made two batches of chili, one with ground beef and the other with ground turkey (for my friends who don’t eat red meat). Byron’s cornbread recipe was too complicated for our camping trip – who wanted to whip up egg whites to peaks in the great outdoors without your handy dandy electric mixer? My co-chair for Saturday night’s dinner suggested Marie Callendar’s just-add-water cornbread mix. PERFECT!

The key to successful dutch oven cooking is to control the heat. Light up the coal briquettes and get them good and ready in about 20-30 minutes. Remember not to place the Dutch oven directly over the flames, otherwise it can crack. Under each pot I had approximately 18 briquettes. You can also light a wood fire first and then lay the briquettes over the ash to get more heat. You place the dutch ovens over the coals and cook like you do at home. We had a lot of wind going on so to keep the ash out, we would put the tops back over the dutch ovens after each step.

First, brown the onions and red peppers (diced at home and brought to camp in ziploc bags). Second, add the ground meat and diced garlic. I seasoned everything with salt and pepper and my Lawry’s Taco Seasoning, since it included everything you need for chili and most of my crew didn’t want it spicy. You can also mix your own spice mix at home and take it with you in a ziploc bag. Next, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, a can of black beans and a can of diced green chiles. Since our coals were pretty hot, we needed to add a little water to the chili. I quickly mixed my cornbread batter and poured it over the chili. One bag was needed for each dutch oven. Put the lid on your dutch oven, place approximately 16 coals on top of the lid and your cornbread will be done in about 30 minutes.

I admit that I am not totally sure on the timing of everything, as it was getting dark and I didn’t have a watch on. Every now and then we would peek inside and check the status of the cornbread. The bread rose about 2 inches, so make sure you have enough room between the top of the chili and the top of your dutch oven. Again, our fire was a bit on the hot side, we quickly removed the dutch oven off the coals and put it in the dirt, but left the coals on the lid. Overall, the cooking time was about an hour.

We also had toppings for the campfire chili on hand: shredded cheese, sour cream and diced avocado with lime.

The chili was a hit and we had enough for our hungry crew of 10 – especially since we all went white water rafting that day.

You could do this at home, as well, with an oven safe pot. Just make the chili the same way and pour your cornbread mix on top. Put the whole pot in your oven and bake it uncovered per your cornbread recipes directions.

Now, in hindsight, starting a fire and cooking and eating chili after a 100º day wasn’t one of my best ideas. But, since we ate after sundown when the weather cooled off, the chili with cornbread hit the spot!

Dutch Oven Cornbread Chili

Dutch oven cooking is easy in the home or on a camping trip. And this one pot Cornbread Chili will feed one hungry crowd. Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice


  • 35 charcoal briquettes
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced
  • 1 anaheim chile, seeded & diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded & diced
  • 1 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TBS chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz black beans, canned, drained & rinsed
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes, canned
  • 3 oz chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 4 oz green chiles, canned, drained & diced
  • 1/2 cup water, if needed
  • 1 box of cornbread mix


  1. In a fire ring or other fire-safe container add:
    • 35 charcoal briquettes
  2. Light the briquettes and allow to heat up for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  3. When flames are down and coals are hot, place over the hot coals a 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven.
  4. Pour into Dutch oven:
    • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion , diced
    • 1 red bell pepper , seeded & diced
    • 1 anaheim chile , seeded & diced
    • 1 jalapeño pepper , seeded & diced
  5. Cook until vegetables soften, approximately 5 minutes.
  6. Add to the vegetables:
    • 1 1/2 lb ground turkey
    • 4 garlic cloves , minced
  7. Mix meat in with the vegetables and cook until meat is mostly browned.
  8. Season with:
    • 2 TBS chile powder
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  9. Mix in:
    • 15 oz black beans, canned , drained & rinsed
    • 15 oz tomato sauce
    • 15 oz diced tomatoes, canned
    • 3 oz chipotle chile in adobo sauce
    • 4 oz green chiles, canned , drained & diced
  10. If your coals are too hot you might need more liquid. Add up to:
    • 1/2 cup water , if needed
  11. Allow chili to simmer for at least 30 min or up to several hours. The longer the chili cooks, the more flavor the chili will have. If you are simmering the chili for hours, remove 10-15 coals from underneath the Dutch oven. Keep an eye on the coals and the heat while it cooks. You may need to to add new coals if the old ones die out.
  12. Mix together according to package directions:
    • 1 box of cornbread mix
  13. Spread cornbread batter evenly over the top of your chili.
  14. Cover Dutch oven with lid and place approximately 16 hot coals on the lid.
  15. Allow chili and cornbread to cook until cornbread is browned and done, approximately 20-30 minutes.


Cooking Tips: If wind is blowing ashes around your fire, keep chili covered. Remember, when cooking do not place your Dutch oven directly over the flames because this will crack your pot. For more tips on Dutch oven cooking, visit Byron's Dutch Oven Cooking Page. You can also do this at home in the oven. Make sure you use an oven safe pot and bake the chili-cornbread uncovered per your cornbread recipe directions.

Prep Time:

Yield: Serves 6

Cook Time:

Dutch Oven Cornbread Chili Detail

Mad about your Dutch Oven? Here are my Dutch oven cooking tips:

Camp meals will never be the same once you learn How to Cook in a Dutch Oven - by FamilySpice.com

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2 Responses to Dutch Oven Cornbread Chili

  1. Kaylene at #

    Sounds Amazing! Wanting to make it this weekend at the beach for our Dutch oven cook-off. Is it possible to get a list of things I need and how much? Can’t wait to make this!

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